We are overwhelmed — and grateful — for the many letters to the editor we receive every day. Many are from regular writers, but we often hear from new or occasional writers who have questions about our letters policy.
Here are some of their most frequently asked questions and our answers.
Q: How do I submit a letter?
A: E-mailed letters are preferred. Send them to email@example.com.
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Q: I don't have e-mail. Can I still submit a letter?
A: Of course! It can be mailed to The Tribune, P.O. Box 112, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406; or faxed to 781-7905. Typed letters are preferred. Mailed letters require more processing than e-mailed letters, so it typically takes longer for those to appear in the paper. If you mail a letter, be sure to include your contact information — name, address and phone number — on the letter itself, not just on the envelope.
Q: I'm ready to write. What are your requirements?
A: Letters should be limited to 200 words, and if you can say it in 100, so much the better. Follow conventional capitalization and punctuation rules, and avoid using multiple exclamation marks or capital letters to emphasize a point. If you are referencing a previous letter or article, please include the date that it appeared in the paper. Avoid using acronyms; rather than using LOCSD, for example, say Los Osos Community Services District. After that first reference, you can simply refer to it as the district. If you are citing factual information from another source, please include a reference, such as a website or a book title.
Q: Do you run every letter you receive?
A: No. We review every letter, but some must be rejected because they are too long; contain libelous or obscene statements; are illegible; contain factual inaccuracies or unproven allegations; or the writer neglected to include the necessary contact information of a full name, address and a phone number where he or she can be reached during business hours.
When we receive multiple letters on the same subject, we may not have the space to run them all. In those cases, we try to post the remaining letters in the Letters to the Editor section on our website, SanLuisObispo.com.
We also reject poems, and we do not run letters that praise or criticize a particular business (more on that later).
We also limit writers to one letter every 30 days.
Q: Why did you change my letter?
A: Letters are edited for several reasons, including grammar, clarity, length and taste. Occasionally, we add information, such as the date that a referenced article appeared in the paper, or the first name or job title of a person mentioned in a letter.
Q: I met all your requirements, and my letter still hasn't appeared. Why not?
A: We receive as many as 30 to 40 letters a day, so it can take up to a week or longer for a letter to be published. However, if it has been several days since you sent a letter and it has not appeared, feel free to contact us to make sure we received it. Call 781-7933 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: I would like to thank my hair stylist (or mechanic, or travel agent or party planner) for wonderful service. Can I do so in a letter to the editor?
A: As a general policy, we don't accept letters that single out a particular commercial business for praise or criticism. However, we welcome letters that comment on business practices or trends.
Q: I would like submit a Viewpoint. How do I do that, and what are the criteria for selection?
A: We give priority to Viewpoints on local issues, written by area residents who have expertise in the subject or are in a unique position to have insights or knowledge of the topic.
While we publish Viewpoints of varying lengths, it's best not to exceed 600 words. And because we often receive multiple Viewpoints on the same topic, especially when it's a controversial issue, it's a good idea to check in advance to make sure we can accommodate your submission. To do so, e-mail us at email@example.com.
When you submit a Viewpoint, please provide a brief description of your background that includes your education, career and other relevant information.
Q: I mailed in a Viewpoint and never received a response. Shouldn't I at least have received an acknowledgment?
A: Because of the high volume of submissions, we unfortunately cannot acknowledge every Viewpoint and letter we receive.
The Tribune welcomes your letters. Send them to: THE TRIBUNE, P.O. BOX 112, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406. Fax letters to 781-7905 or e-mail them to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Letters should be no longer than 200 words. Shorter, e-mailed letters are preferred. Your letter must be signed and include your address and phone number. Writers are limited to one letter a month.
We reserve the right to edit letters for length, clarity and taste.